Zhengding Bishop Jailed as Vatican Looks at China

Prelate Working for Reconciliation of Church

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BEIJING, MARCH 31, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Bishop Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, China, has been arrested, just as the commission on China established by Benedict XVI is meeting in the Vatican.

According to a report from AsiaNews, the 74-year-old prelate was arrested Monday afternoon and taken by five police offers to an undisclosed location.

Also on Monday, the commission on China began a three-day meeting in the Vatican. Benedict XVI established the group in 2007 to study the most important issues of the life of the Catholic Church in China. This is their second meeting and during both, they have considered the application of the Holy Father’s ’07 letter to Chinese Catholics.

The AsiaNews article affirmed the arrest of Bishop Zhiguo is an affront to the efforts of that commission and the Holy See to promote the reconciliation of the Church in China.

Bishop Zhiguo is a member of the “underground” Church but has worked for reconciliation of the Church in China, where the government permits religious practice only with recognized personnel and in places registered with the Religious Affairs Office and under the control of the Patriotic Association.

This explains the difference affirmed between the “national” or “official” Church, and the faithful who oppose such control and who wish to obey the Pope directly. The latter constitute the non-official, or underground, Church.

AsiaNews noted Bishop Zhiguo’s refusal to be a part of the Patriotic Association, as well as his recent reconciliation with Bishop Jang Taoran of Shijiazhuang, a member of the national Church recently reconciled with Rome.

The two prelates have been meeting together to plan common pastoral activities, though both have suffered house arrest in an attempt from the authorities to stop their cooperation.

Local Catholics have expressed fear for Bishop Zhiguo’s health, as his condition has been weakened by previous stays in prison.

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